Our Justice Interns have been working all summer to bring you fresh ideas and inspiration in Vol. 3 of our lifestyle magazine, A World Free, coming this fall! Dive deeper into a lifestyle of prayer, understanding, resolve, and engagement with us!
The following is an excerpt from A World Free Vol. 2 / Cultivate
Far too often “consent” is less a statement of “yes, I truly desire this,” and more an expression of “yes, I will accept this…because I am afraid…because I am confused…because I can fathom no alternative…because I think I am worth nothing more.”
Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.
— Proverbs 14:13
An example: The mainstreaming of porn has had innumerable effects, one of which is the increased visibility of the porn performer in popular culture. Books, magazine articles, interviews, reality shows, and other media supplement the ubiquitous presence of Internet porn, all of which showcase a person apparently touting, inviting, wanting, enjoying the often violent and increasingly debasing commercial sex acts done in front of the camera. It is the prurient pinnacle of affirmative consent. “They choose that.” “They want to do that.” “They say so themselves.”
But is that consent credible?
We are not well trained as a society in determining the credibility of a speaker. Yet there is at least one institution that still requires the average person to engage in the exercise of determining a speaker’s credibility: the jury.
And so for us, as a jury of one and collectively as a society, we must determine whether an instance of affirmative consent is credible. Is it believable that a person would want what is done to them on that porn set? Is it believable that a person would want sex with a dozen strangers a day in a low budget hotel? Is it reliable that this person wants you to do that to them?
Story after story of former sex industry performer weakens the credibility of the “yes, I want it” claims. The pattern of depression, disease, and desperation afterward is time and again coupled with experiences of abuse, molestation, abandonment, and rape in the beginning that led to an “affirmative consent” to a pimp or porn producer’s offer, often because “everything had already been taken from me and I didn’t think I was worth anything more.”
This should lead us to a thoughtful, compassionate reply that says: “I don’t believe your consent to this is credible because I believe what you really desire is something altogether different.”
And if, even if, the consent is real, to a degree that the individual insists upon its truthfulness and will not be dissuaded, it leads to the response that virtue alone can utter: “But I do not want that for you.”
A virtuous engagement with another, whether in person or on screen, is defined by a love that is self-denying and a justice that is self-controlled. In the face of an offer of consent or a sexual proposition, virtue responds: “I want something better for you, and for your sake I will not participate in that to which you have consented.”
Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
— Galatians 5:13
Read the full article in A World Free Vol. 2 / Cultivate.